Sunday, February 17, 2013

february fun

I don't usually consider February a very fun month, but it was this year! Here in Belgium, there is a break called Carnival, which is basically a week in the middle of February where there are carnivals and everyone has a week of vacation from school. No complaints from me!
While I didn't actually visit any carnivals, I had a fun week filled with friends and travelling around Belgium. During the beginning of the week my host family and I went to a "Belgian safari" and a cool cave in this small town in the South of Belgium called Han. We had the chance to walk in the woods and sightsee the animals for ourselves on the "safari". There were lots of cool animals from the region, such as wild boar, deer, and even a bear. The caves were also really awesome. Sometimes it just blows me away how nature itself can just form these natural wonders on it's own. The natural world is really remarkable. We also ate at a really cool restaurant that reminded me of Robin Hood with an open fire.
Monday, I went to Namur with my friend Kaari from Finland and we walked around La Citadelle (basically this huge war castle) and ate Belgian chocolate. Then the next day I went with her to Brussels and we visited our friend Elizabeth from Latvia. We went to a few art museums and just walked around the city for a while. Brussels is definitely one of my favorite cities that I have visited so far. While I like the small home-town feel of Namur, I really love how Brussels is such a big place with so many cool things to discover. I hope I can spend a longer amount of time there someday. Thursday, or Valentine's day, I went to my friend Nicole's house. She lives just about 10 minutes from me. Some other girls also came over and we made pizza and watched Titanic and Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (one of my favorite movies, and now I can almost understand all of it!). I always love hanging out with my exchange student friends because we can all relate to each other and they are generally really easygoing and fun people to be around. For the last day of the vacation, my host family and I visited Ghent! Ghent is a city in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, the region called Flanders (I live in Wallonia, the French-speaking region). Every time that I visit Flanders, I fall in love with the cities. Everyone rides bikes, there is cool artwork everywhere, and the atmosphere is just completely different. However, I just wish that they spoke French so I could live there! I know nothing about the Dutch language, so I don't think living there will be happening any time soon. My host family and I spent the morning walking around the center of the city and visiting an awesome medieval castle. It was my first time in a castle like that, so it was a pretty cool experience. I am not the biggest history nerd, but I can appreciate some old musty buildings if I am given the chance. We ate at a nice little restaurant for lunch. My host dad told me that it was very typical of Flanders. There were lots of stained glass windows and red-and-white checkered curtains, and they were a restaurant known for their ribs. Interesting combination! In the afternoon, we visited this really tall tower which used to be used for "overviewing" the city of Ghent in the older days. My favorite part was the top of the tower, because you could see an expansive view of the whole city. Afterwards, we went to a cathedral and saw the famous painting, "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Jan van Eyck and Hubert van Eyck. Afterwards, the sun came out a little bit so we walked back and re-visited the center of the city to intake some vitamin D.
Normally, February is one of my least favorite months, but this year was different. It's also pretty strange because I am halfway through my exchange and it is going by so quickly. The winter is almost over, my French is continually getting better, and there are so many more new things to come. I am really excited to see what the rest of the year holds.

Until the next time,
Skyler




Waving from the mountain top.
(February 10, 2013)


(February 10, 2013)


(February 10, 2013)


Some new spring shoots!
(February 10, 2013)


Searching for the "chat savage".
(February 10, 2013)


(February 10, 2013)


(February 10, 2013)


Fields full of wild animals.
(February 10, 2013)


The first time that I've ever seen a bear!
(February 10, 2013)


Some cool crystals in the cave.
(February 10, 2013)


(February 10, 2013)


One of the largest and oldest cave structures to exist!
(February 10, 2013)




Some montage video fun.
(February 10, 2013)



I thought this was pretty cool: the basis of all Latin languages is hieroglyphics.
(February 12, 2013)


(February 12, 2013)



An interesting exhibit at the Beaux Arts in Brussels.
(February 12, 2013)




They will always give you a little fork like this to eat your fries with. I never really understood why.
(February 12, 2013)



My friend Kaari and I drew sketches of each other on the train ride home from Brussels to Namur on some high quality napkin paper. Mine was terrible.
(February 12, 2013)




Valentine's Day celebrations. Also, my hands still smell like garlic, which is unfortunate.
(February 14, 2013)



(February 14, 2013)



(February 14, 2013)



(February 14, 2013)



Flower market in Ghent on a Sunday morning.
(February 17, 2013)



Succulents, my personal favorite.
(February 17, 2013)



Used book sale along the water.
(February 17, 2013)



(February 17, 2013)



Cathedral in the foggy morning.
(February 17, 2013)



Bikers ready-to-go.
(February 17, 2013)



I know many people who have irrational fears of pigeons. Sorry if you're one of them.
(February 17, 2013)




View from the top of the castle.
(February 17, 2013)



Eeeeeep.
(February 17, 2013)



Really classy!
(February 17, 2013)



(February 17, 2013)



(February 17, 2013)




Los zapatos.
(February 17, 2013)



The bell, it tolls.
(February 17, 2013)


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